First, they celebrated Foothill High football coach Matt Sweeney's 25 years of service Friday night.

Then the host Falcons players delivered a performance that embodied Sweeney's program, rallying for a 21-14 win over Monte Vista to kick off the East Bay Athletic League season.

Sophomore Kyle Kearns completed two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to erase a seven-point deficit, and Foothill's defense stuffed the Mustangs run game overall.

It was Sweeney's night, though. In his 26th season, the respected coach was honored in a pregame ceremony attended by alumni and family.

"Unbelievable," said Sweeney, whose team improved to 3-1. "I just think with all the alumni there ... that's how we played for 26 years. It's not always pretty, but we never quit battling. That's what we did. We battled and battled and battled."

In the fourth quarter, Kearns completed a 7-yard scoring strike to Jamirr Holland from out of the backfield with 6:48 remaining, and Nico Quero's extra point tied the game.

The go-ahead score -- on a 47-yard completion from Kearns to fellow sophomore Isaiah Langley with 4:36 left, came after the Falcons forced Monte Vista to punt from its own 18-yard line.

Foothill played well on defense, sacking Nikita Zamora eight times and limiting Mustangs star Zack Chang to 42 yards on 17 carries.


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The Mustangs (3-1) struggled on special teams, missing four field goal attempts.

Foothill led 7-0 in the first quarter after Griffith Gates (99 yards rushing) blocked a field-goal attempt by John De Maio, and Nick Mendonca scooped up the ball and ran 60 yards on the return for a touchdown. The Mustangs tied the game on a 26-yard pass from Zamora to Jalen Avery, two plays after Zamora passed for 46 yards to Mason Melin.

The Mustangs' Nico Zamora intercepted Kearns on the Falcons' first possession of the second half and promptly went ahead 14-7 on a 13-yard leaping catch in the end zone by Melin.

California 31, Amador Valley 21: The fumbled football bounced by its lonesome on the turf just waiting to be picked up. Grant Sherrod was happy to oblige.

The California senior scooped up the ball and ran untouched to the end zone for 78 yards, scoring his team's final points in its home victory over Amador Valley.

"That was the game right there," California coach Eric Billeci said.

Sherrod's big play came with 8:25 left in the game and came shortly after a sequence that featured fumbles from both teams in a matter of eight seconds. Amador Valley (2-2) had moved the ball down to the Cal 20-yard line, but a botched pitch attempt proved to be deadly as Sherrod put the game out of reach.

California (4-0) also took advantage of a third-quarter interception from senior defensive back Jake Lepere, as Nate Grixti nailed a 24-yard field goal on the ensuing series to give the Grizzlies a 24-14 lead. Amador Valley answered with a 12-play, 89-yard touchdown drive, but couldn't put any points on the board after that.

Grizzlies quarterback Cameron Owen completed 8 of 11 passes for 130 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Karris Johnson paced the team on the ground with 15 carries for 99 yards and a score.

-- Alex Espinoza, correspondent

San Ramon Valley 34, Livermore 19: It isn't often that an EBAL team goes into league play searching for its first win of the season.

But after an 0-3 start against tough nonleague competition, San Ramon Valley found itself in just that situation. Fortunately for the Wolves, Cameron Birse and Marcus de la Pena turned in big games to lead their team to a victory over Livermore.

"A lot of teams in our league have learned from winning, but the least three games, we've learned from losing," Wolves coach Mark Kessler said.

Clinging to a 20-19 lead entering the second half, SRV went on an 11-play, 61-yard drive that ended in de la Pena scoring from 2 yards out to expand the Wolves' lead to 27-19.

Then three plays later, Brian Danis intercepted Cowboys quarterback Max Kreger and found the end zone for the game's final score. The Wolves then turned it over to their defense which shut Livermore out in the second half.

San Ramon Valley had taken a 14-6 lead on Birse's second touchdown of the night, an 8-yard slant to Matt Turner. But James Silva took the ensuing kickoff deep into Wolves' territory, and Louie Hernandez scored on a 10-yard run to pull Livermore within 14-12.

Then after stopping the Wolves on their next drive, Hernandez found a gap and sprinted 40 yards for his second score to put the Cowboys up 19-14. But Birse found Turner again just before halftime in the corner to put SRV back in front at 20-19.

Birse finished with 257 yards and three touchdowns, completing 16 of 24, while de la Pena finished with 120 yards rushing.

Hernandez lead Livermore with 119 yards rushing and two scores, and also threw a touchdown pass to Kyle Walbridge on a halfback pass.

-- Matt Rempel, correspondent